Mini-puppet theaters

That was my co-op this morning. Everyone brought a cereal box per child and we cut them, flipped them inside out, taped them back together and cut two squares in the front/back.

Then the kids decorated the front of the theaters and made popsicle puppets.

Some people made their puppets into popsicles, some people made their boxes into dioramas, some people made their boxes into monster faces.

The kids worked for an hour making puppets and then all moaned when I said they had 30 minutes left. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had said they had 2 hours left, they still would have moaned. I wish we could stay there all day making puppets, but other people were coming into the library. We didn’t have time to show off the theaters and puppets there, but some of us are going to tape a show the kids made at home and post it on the HS board. Hannah and Grace loved making the theaters because they are going to use them with their finger puppets and LPS figurines.

We went to lunch with some friends and introduced them to Pho. It was funny because one of her kids only wanted the noodles and the other only wanted the meat out of the soup. Also, they both got bobas, but they didn’t like those. Hannah was eyeing the rest of the boba and soup, but I told her no.

We got home and finished cleaning up. I made chicken marsala for dinner and roasted some cauliflower, then I spied some extra lemons and made some lemon bread for dessert. Janice came over and we talked and had dinner, the kids all got to talk to her and then the adults took off for Solid Grounds. I had made a TNO for tonight before I knew that Janice was coming over, so we just invited her to come too. We had some coffee at the shop and talked some more and talked with some new HS’ers and then said our goodbyes. She has to leave tomorrow (she usually isn’t here long when it’s for work), but we had a nice visit.


Triangle proofs are going to kill me. You’ll find me on the floor with ASA, SSA, AAA and ‘given’, ‘definition of bisector’ and more proof reasons strangling me. I love math, I treat Geometry like a rabid dog, I poke it with a stick and then run. But, here we go again, deep breath, I only have to teach this 2 more times in the future. See, not all homeschool Moms love every subject they teach and I try really, really hard to not impart that to my kids and to let them know that there is a reason for these things we do (even if I really can’t find one.) So, we tramp on through the muck of proofs (why are they congruent, because ISS – I Said So!)

After lunch we headed down to the Botanic gardens so Bethany could go to the Chihuly exhibit with some teen friends. Grace, Hannah and I went to the park and hung out. Grace climbed a tree to read her book and Hannah put out her hat and started drumming. Unfortunately the only occupants of the park at that time were homeless people, so Hannah didn’t make any money. I told her so, but she insisted on trying anyway. We picked up Bethany and drove home, I made dinner and we spent the night in. Tomorrow I have to take Maisy to the vet to get a shot update so she can stay with the lady who is taking care of her when we go on vacation. Maisy is going to be so confused when we drop her at that house. She won’t remember her visit there and she has to learn how to use a dog door to get in and out of the house….we’ll see how that goes.

Whales spotted in Denver

We have had whales in Denver, this area used to be an ocean, but the whales we saw today were in the museum. When I saw that a whale exhibit was coming to Denver, you know I made sure that it would turn into a co-op so that we could see it with our homeschool group.

Grace has been counting down the days to this exhibit since co-ops started.

I’m so glad we got to go to CA before this and see real whales.

The exhibit was a mix of skeletons, some hands-on stations like diving with a sperm whale, the sound booth where you could hear whale sounds, make a dolphin booth where you could fine tune your dolphin to ride the waves better, movies about whale riders (Maori people), pictures of whales and more. There was a giant blue whale heart you could climb through, it’s big. We were happy to see some Vaquita models, but in the stranding and extinction part of the exhibit they didn’t mention the over-fishing and net traps that have the Vaquita down to 98 porpoises.

They had a section of the exhibit about the Maori people of New Zealand and their affection for the whales that they used for food and for tool making. You can learn more about the Maori people here.

They had wonderful artifacts like:
A tabua (carved whale tooth),


waseisei (whale tooth necklace),


hoeroa (bone staff)


and more.

The docents they had there had very little knowledge of whales, the museum should have placed Grace in there instead. After talking to one of the docents, my friend had questions about what he said. No he didn’t pronounce Narwhal correctly, no those bones at the end of the whales are not support for ‘flippers’ (Grace told her that it is the vestigial ‘foot’ of the whale.) He didn’t have a clue. Where did the oil from the Sperm whale come from? The spermaceti in the melon. I could go on, I know they are just volunteers, but really, read the handouts. In the stranding section we saw a euthanasia device used on Sperm whales, that was a little sad, but those whales are so huge that when they strand they are too heavy to move and most likely have internal damage to their organs which collapse when they don’t have water to buoy them. The larger sperm whale (male) skeleton was one of the many stranded Sperm whales in Auckland. The whale was given to the Chief as a gift and was named Tu Hononga. There was also a picture of a Sperm whale grave (59 of them) in Poverty bay on Okitu beach. There was a small section about ambergris, that’s like….whale vomit, but it doesn’t come out of their mouth…now every time we go to a beach I’m going to need to bring a match and a needle so we can test every piece of brown rock that looks like ambergris (cool fact, it was used as a spice in the Middle East and was used in perfumes.) Even though Grace learned nothing new about whales, it was a great exhibit.

We wandered around the museum and got to see the new Discovery area, it’s really meant for little kids, but that doesn’t mean that older kids can’t have some fun there too. We went home with 2 extra kids, then traded those 2 for 2 more that were spending the night at our house. It was a crazy evening.

Sugar skulls

The girls had been looking forward to this co-op, every year I hear, ‘Can we make a sugar skull?’ So, when there was a co-op for sugar skulls, I signed them up. We headed to CHAC in the arts district and got to look around at all of the Day of the Dead art before the class. This cow skull is painted with henna, which made it not only pretty, but also smell like lavender.

There were skull paintings, sculptures and altars in the building.

Don’t blink.

We heard a bit about Day of the Dead and then started painting the skulls.

What Day of the Dead is not:

Mexican Halloween. Indigenous people have celebrated the Day of the Dead since 1800 B.C.

It is not:

Morbid. There are no images of dead people, ghosts, witches or the devil.

It is not:

A cult. It is a Catholic ritual intermixed with folk culture. Going to Mass is an essential aspect of this celebration.

It is not:

Ancestor worship. Altars or ofrendas are not for worshiping, but for offering love and remembering departed family members. Kind of like leaving flowers on a grave when you visit.

It is not:

Sad. It’s a day of happiness to remember loved ones. But people assume an introspective attitude in the cemetery. Kind of like having a memorial service to remember the life of a loved one and the happy times.

It is not:

Glorification of death. The holiday honors dead relatives, not death itself. Celebrants use the opportunity to reflect upon their lives, heritage and the cycle of life and death.

After the co-op we went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2, that was a good movie. I think it’s as good as the first one. It was sad at parts, but the story and animation were great, I hope they make a third one.

Terrific Tuesday

This morning we had a lecture on Shakespeare, it was my co-op, brought to us by Active minds. We really freaked out the old people though. See, Active minds usually has talks in retirement homes, sometimes libraries, book stores and a few churches. And, Active minds is aimed at getting old people to be active in their minds by attending lectures on all kinds of things – but nowhere does it say that kids can’t come to these lectures. So, when I see a lecture that I think will fit in with school, we go. I happened to set this one up as a co-op because I thought others would appreciate the topic. We had 13 in our group, 3 adults and 10 kids. We outnumbered the old people attending, maybe that’s why they wondered why we were there. After the lecture we got many ‘your children were so good!’ speeches, because they were – which, I guess, is hard for people to realize (that some kids CAN listen to a lecture.) One lady asked why the kids weren’t in school, I told her we were homeschoolers and this was part of school. She was confused, why were we there? To learn about Shakespeare….I thought that was why everyone had come. Another lady whispered that she had never seen children at any of the Active minds lectures…never, and she had been to numerous lectures. Don’t worry old people, we aren’t invading your lectures, most of them have no interest for us, but the ones that do….watch out – we’ll come and listen…and takes notes….and ask questions! Anyway, we found out some cool stuff about the Bard like: He wrote 154 sonnets, 2 narrative poems and 37 plays. The increase of GDP by 400% in England caused a middle class who had enough money to make ends meet and afford entertainment. Before that, royals and the wealthy were the only ones who could enjoy a good show. The masses demanded new stuff all the time, no one wanted to go to the theater and see the same play! Standing room admission was a penny and you could get as close to the actors as you wanted…which led to people hurling insults and vegetables at the actors (which begs the bigger question, who brings tomatoes to a play?) Shakespeare’s fame grew in the 1700′s, but in the 1800′s it really took off and people began using Shakespeare to inspire their own plays and poems, but don’t worry about plagiarism, after all Will himself found inspiration in everything from Plutarch, to Roman dramas to History books of England to the Bible and more. And finally, Shakespeare introduced over 3,000 words and phrases into the English language such as: lackluster, in a pickle, it’s a foregone conclusion, it’s all Greek to me, vanished into thin air, don’t stand on ceremony, green-eyed jealousy and too much of a good thing.

We had lunch at a park near the church and then headed up to Boulder. I took 93 even though I knew they had a section of road closed, just look at that view.

A few families were meeting at Celestial for the tour, then heading to the farm. We went on the tea tour again, maybe it’s the free tea, maybe it’s the hairnets…who knows why we’ve been on the tour so many times.

We survived the mint room again and the factory floor was in full swing making boxes of tea. We got to smell the botanicals and grasses as we went to the mint room – lavender, lemon grass, alfalfa, chamomile and more. Did you know that Celestial makes one tea that has catnip in it? True story, it’s Tension tamer. Hannah thinks she’s sooo funny.

After the tour we headed to Cottonwood farms to play and pick pumpkins. If you go to Boulder, visit this farm (it’s at Arapahoe and 75th.) They don’t charge admission for their hay maze or their corn maze.

They don’t charge for petting the animals or taking pictures on the farm.

So, since you saved that money, buy some of their squashes, gourds and pumpkins and their honey and support this family farm.

The kids ran through the hay maze, I’m pretty sure that’s called cheating when you can see over the bales.

Annie was the only one who got lost in there. The corn maze was a different story, I gave up and traced my way back to the entrance.

Hannah finally came out after a while and Grace and Bella kept running back in.

We pet the donkey and goats and saw the chickens and miniature horse. Queen of the Gourds.

I wish that it had been a cooler day, that would have made the trip better. But, the kids had fun playing around and picking out a pumpkin. Annie hauled this pumpkin into the wagon all by herself.

We said bye to our friends and headed home to beat traffic (nice try, but no.)

We had time to eat dinner before leaving for drum circle. We sat outside and it wasn’t bad at first, but by 7:30 my fingers were frozen. Bob said that next month we’ll be in the tent with the heater, which is good because drums don’t sound the same when you play with gloves.

And in keeping with our devotional this week, a song about who you are in Jesus.

Collage Matisse style

I did a Matisse co-op not too long ago, but we were painting in his style for that one. Today we were making cut-out collages in his style.

When Henri Emile Benoit Matisse was young he dreamed of being a lawyer. While in law school he fell ill and while recuperating his mother brought him paints to bide his time. He fell in love with painting and became a great avant-garde artist. Later in life he fell ill again and was confined to his bed and then a wheelchair. He couldn’t paint anymore, so he found a new way to get the images out of his head and into the real world – scissors.


He cut large pieces of paper and had assistants glue them onto even larger sheets of paper that they had colored under his direction.

We read this book, a simple book that tells of his life from boyhood to his death.


It shows him in bed cutting out a huge leaf, that is one thing the books can’t convey – how big these works were. One picture that we looked at was 10X12 in real life, the flowers in the picture have to be as big as your hand.


So, we were making smaller pictures. I had stencils in the shape of some of his famous cut-outs, a child, a man, a woman, an angel and more.

Some kids used the stencils, some didn’t.

Some used the negatives of their cut-outs, some didn’t.

I put some piano jazz on and the kids were quiet for over an hour cutting, pasting, assembling and coming up with some amazing art.

Some of the pictures started out as one thing and morphed into a story.

Suddenly the men were no longer dancing under a plane, now they were parachuting from an aircraft hit by lightning.

Guess who did this one? Grace said it was easier to cut out the shapes rather than paint them (except for the tiny fish, but if we were doing this Matisse style for real, then the fish would have been as big as my hand.)

Matisse would be proud.

Bows and lake

We met at Bear creek park to shoot bows and arrows.

I think Grace needs a different bow.

After shooting for awhile we headed over to the lake to swim. A friend was in from CA so we got to catch up with her. The lake was full of algae, which is surprising since Chatfield is so clear right now.

I went in for a dip to cool off and when we got home our swim suits were full of green algae, yuck, we smelled like a science experiment. Clear creek might be colder, but at least it’s not full of algae.

River clean-up

Hannah was reading about the Greek gods today in literature, that is going to make some great notebooking pages. I think she already knows her spelling words, it didn’t take her long to type them out today. I can’t say enough about relaxing about when your kids will read (and spell.) If I had pushed her, it would have been bad for both of us. When the reading clicked, the spelling didn’t, but I knew that the more she read the better she would spell. I still pull words from books she’s reading for spelling, but she also has a list of words from the K12 curriculum. Grace did her vocabulary and then write out a short essay on why the Vaquita should be saved. She’e entering an art contest from STW about the Vaquita and there has to be an essay to go with it. There are two because she had two ideas that were different for the picture.

This one is done like a mystery novel cover with case files at the bottom.

After lunch we headed to the Platte river at Grant Frontier park for my co-op. We spent about 30 minutes picking up trash and then played in the river.

It never ceases to amaze me how much trash gets piled up by the river (especially in this one spot.)

I mean, how hard is it to walk up to the trash can? All it takes is a bit of rain upstream and the river will spill over, grab that trash and transport it downstream, yuck.

Grace found a torn duffel bag and a knife among the trash, then when O fund a shovel Grace said that there were all the elements for getting rid of someone and hiding a body.

S and O thought, no, the shovel is for digging for gold.

The kids had fun in the water picking up clams and rocks and tubing.

It started to drizzle, but we were in the water anyway, so who cares if you get a little wetter. Finally, the air got too cold and we headed home.

Tomorrow it’s park day at a new park for the month, Bear creek. Hopefully it will be sunny for at least part of the day.

Pine lake

Went to a hiking/fishing/swimming co-op at Pine lake today. Just as we turned into the park we saw a deer with two speckled fawns.

The day was gorgeous, but the cirrus clouds gave away the fact that the weather was going to change at some point.

We didn’t swim because the river was too fast (I know it doesn’t look fast and high right there, but it was fast and even when not high it was too full of rocks.)

Our shelter was also home to mud swallows, the fledglings were sitting on the roof keeping the bugs at bay.

Those who had poles started fishing.

Those who didn’t started hiking and Grace spotted the big find of the day, a juvenile bald eagle.

The cormorants were fishing on the other side of the lake, if I were a fish…I’d stay in the middle.

There were lots of wildflowers and berries!

We ate currants, raspberries and tons of gooseberries. Our fingers were a bit stained. I know it’s mathematically impossible, but it seemed that if I picked 3 berries the girls at 4, which would give me -1 berries, but I swear the more I picked the more they ate. Hannah found mushrooms, maybe they are the Jack O’Lantern kind?

At any rate, we don’t eat wild mushrooms – too much room for error. I went behind the eagle to get a few more pics of it, he sat on the first tree for about an hour, then flew to the second tree and was still sitting there when we left.

Annalivia said she was catching some fish, but wanted hot dogs to eat.

The cormorant family, the babies are sitting in the foreground.

We had hot dogs, sodas and chips for lunch, we never did catch a fish (but we did catch a baby duck!) We heard the thunderstorm and saw it moving over the valley, the ranger came by and told us to clear out in about 30 min. or we’d be stuck in the shelter while the rain, hail and lightning passed right over us. So, we all packed up and left. It was so cool to see that eagle and all of the other flowers and fauna.

Fun Friday

We met up with friends at Roxborough park for a wildflower hike co-op.

Rox is nice because no matter where you hike there, you can see the red rocks.

We did find some flowers as we hiked. Goatsbeard, which I didn’t get a picture of, was blooming everywhere. It produces giant dandelion-like puffballs. I also didn’t get a picture of white fairy trumpets or scouring rush (and those were pretty cool, with bamboo-like stems.) But, I did get a few pictures of yellow star flowers.

Parry harebells.

And Lupine.

That was a nice hike.

We got home and gave Maisy a bath, cleaned up some more and in general got the house ready for my Mom. We’re having green chile pork stew and rice for dinner with an appetizer of goat cheese stuffed peppers.